Christmas tree stand are just a few of the miscellaneous items you’ll find among the towering metal mountains at Sims Metal Management, the world’s largest publicly traded metal and electronics recycler.
“Whatever you bring — if it’s metal, if it’s safe, we will take it,” said Lourenco Ferreira, Operations Manager at SMM.
SMM has more than 240 facilities on five continents. The Ewing location of SMM is called a feeder yard. Local residents and businesses can drop off metal at the location. The metal is then transported to the main yard in Morrisville, Pa., where materials are recycled through an 8,000-horsepower shredder or subjected to other methods to process the material.
“Over the last 10, 15, 20 years, it’s become a much more advanced technology process,” said Dan Strechay, the company’s communications and public relation manager. “This isn’t your grandfather’s scrap metal; this is high technology machinery.”
At the feeder yard, material is sorted into piles of ferrous material, which is iron and steel, and nonferrous material, which is everything else, including copper, aluminum and nickel.
Upon entering the site, customers must drive onto a scale and through radiation detectors. After an employee unloads the material, the vehicles are weighed again, and the customers are paid for the weight difference; ferrous material is weighed by ton, and nonferrous by pound.
Over the past year, the Ewing location of SMM recycled between 12,000 to 20,000 tons of metal. The same metal can even be recycled more than once — steel and nonferrous material can be recycled an infinite amount of times, Strechay said.
“Just imagine that pile of scrap you see out there. If this facility did not exist, where would that scrap be?” Ferreira said. “It would be on the sides of roads, piled up in backyards — just lost, basically.”
Even copper wires encased in rubber are sorted and transported to a facility that will be able to properly dismantle and recycle them.
In most cases, SMM requires customers to drop off materials in a vehicle; but some companies with a large quantity of metal scraps may qualify to have SMM provide a metal waste bin at the company’s site and take care of all material transportation.
“We are extremely responsible with the way we do business,” Ferreira said. “We are responsible towards the environment — that’s one of our main drives — and towards our employees and our customers to provide the safest environment in the industry. Our safety record speaks for itself.”
On the site, one will find employees (and visitors) wearing hardhats, eye goggles, reflective jackets and steel-toed boots in order to walk around and handle the towering piles of metal.
The Ewing site is a little over a year old, and in November, celebrated an incident-free year, which meant there were no accidents or injuries on the site. The company as a whole also has one of the lowest incident records in the industry.
SMM was founded in Australia in 1917 by Albert Sims, who started as a rag, bone and metal collector.
“Those were very common recycling items at the time,” Strechay said. “Just like our Newark operations, they started the same way.”
Previously named Sims Group, the company expanded to the United Kingdom, then to the U.S. in California and Virginia in the early 1990s, before it merged in 2008 with the American company, Metal Management.
The Sims Metal Management feeder yard in Ewing is located at 1511 Calhoun St. More information is online at simsmm.com.